LAS VEGAS KICKOFF: Junior varsity callup preserves Rams’ win over Clark

Mackenzie Pearson doesn’t normally play varsity for Rancho’s girls soccer team.

The junior varsity callup looked like a veteran Friday.

RaeAnn Wiltshire scored on a free kick in the first half, and Pearson made seven second-half saves to make it stand up as the Rams held off Clark, 1-0 to finish 1-1 after the first day of the pool play at the Las Vegas Kickoff at Anthem Hills Park.

“They were just some lucky saves, I guess,” said Pearson, who finished with 10 saves. “It feels really good, honestly. I was nervous, because they were taking some hard, powerful shots.”

With 13 minutes left in the first half, Wiltshire drove a free kick from nearly 40 yards out that ricocheted off a Clark defender and bounced into the back of the net for the match’s only goal.

“She’s got the leg (to shoot from there). Anything more than 30 yards, we tell her to put it on target,”

Rancho coach John Besancon said. “As a junior and third year on varsity, that always helps. It’s why she’s one of our captains this year.”

The Chargers made a frenzied attempt to rally after halftime, sending nine shots that were redirected by Pearson and a swarming Rancho back line. Clark outshot Rancho, 16-13.

Clark’s Azucena Bernal tried to sneak a shot into the bottom right corner from inside the penalty box with less than two minutes to play, but Pearson made a reflex-save to redirect the ball just wide of the goal post. The play came one minute after Pearson made back-to-back saves on a pair of shots by Bernal and teammate Kealani Chaidez.

“I was tired. There were so many consecutive shots,” Pearson said. “I’m just a JV goalie, but the varsity goalie couldn’t make it. I was really happy (to get the chance).”

The Rams bounced back from a loss in the tournament’s first match to Foothill.

“Every half, we’re getting better,” Besancon said. “We’re going in the right direction. We dwell on all the positive stuff that we’ve done each game. Having two returners in RaeAnn and Jacelyn (Calvo) has been big.”

Pool play resumes Saturday at 8 a.m.

Foothill 2, Rancho 0 — Jilian Vigil and Alyssa Palchetti each scored a goal as the Falcons downed the Rams to open the tournament.

Kim Callen earned the shutout for Foothill.

Mingus (Ariz.) 4, Sierra Vista 2 — Torey Braly scored three goals in leading the Marauders past the Mountain Lions.

Makenzie Mabery added a goal for Mingus.

Courtney Shay and Sophia Omidiji each scored a goal for Sierra Vista.

Clark 3, Palo Verde 2 — Bernal scored the winning goal to break a 2-2 halftime tie as the Chargers edged the Panthers.

Kealani Chaidez added two goals for Clark.

Serenity Grim and Autumn Alderson had a goal apiece for Palo Verde.

Liberty (Calif.) 3, Green Valley 1 — Paige Dudek, Brianna Farber and Mikayla Farber each scored to lead the Lions past the Gators.

Alex Adams scored on an assist from Paulina Baker for Green Valley.

Foothill 2, Palo Verde 2 — Dakota Grim and Christene Whitaker each scored a second-half goal to help the Panthers rally from a 1-0 halftime deficit and tie the Falcons.

Drea Austin and Alyssa Gamboa had a goal apiece for Foothill.

Green Valley 1, Sierra Vista 0 — Kayla Anderson tallied the lone goal to help the Gators down the Mountain Lions.

Nicole Dunn picked up the two-save shutout for Green Valley.

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